Today I finished the first bag I made using a proper pattern. I had to change the design a bit because I did not have all the accessories and did not want to spend too much money on it but I think it turned out really well. I am quite proud of it. The bag is a bit smaller than the ones I normally use but I have started using a bag organiser insert and that fits nicely. I think this bag will be great for summer or maybe a Christmas present? I will have to think about this. Anyway, I got the free pattern from http://blog.chriswdesigns.com/ and as the instructions are very clear and easy to follow I think, I may try another one of theirs.
We had a fantastic long weekend in Oberlarg. I would have gone on my own but we decided to both fly to Basel. Sheila, our next-door neighbour, offered to look after the dogs so there was nothing to stop us.
After arriving at Basel Airport, we had to pick up the car in Zunzgen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zunzgen) before driving home. As it was too early to go out for a meal we decided to go to Oberlarg (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberlarg) first and then out to have a meal. I phoned Pauline in Seppois (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seppois-le-Bas), to see if she was doing anything that evening and if not if she fancied going out for a meal with us at the railway station restaurant (http://porrentruy.ch/hotrest/buffet-de-la-gare/) in Porrentruy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porrentruy) which is about equidistant for both of us. Alan had never been there but Pauline and I had eaten there twice before and we both liked it. It was a very good meal and very pleasant evening.
The next morning we found out that, even though the radiators were not completely cold, there was something wrong with the boiler. There was no warm water. Alan somehow managed to override the system and as soon as the water was warm enough we had a shower and went shopping for some food. When we arrived at the shop in Ferrette (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrette), the parking was empty except for one Swiss car. The driver of the car was standing next to his vehicle and I asked him if he knew why the shop was closed as I had never seen it closed at lunchtime. He did not know either. About 100 meters along the road there is a small shopping centre. There too, all the shops were closed except for the flower shop. I could only see part of a sign, which said TOUS .... At that moment, the penny dropped November 1st: Toussaint (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toussaint). This meant that everything in France was closed.
We found something to eat at home and after lunch, Alan started sorting out the heating system again. I heard a few nasty swear words so I thought it better not to disturb him or ask any questions and settled down with a book in the not too cold living room. He did not seem to get the system working and gave up in the end, telling me to phone the plumber the next morning. As we were invited in the evening we were not too bothered about not having any heat. As it turned out we could borrow a couple of electric heaters from Jenny and Eric where we were invited that evening.
We had a fantastic evening at Jenny and Eric’s. We were nine people in all and the food, drinks and discussions were up to their normal impressive standards. On the way back home there was one scary moment, when, coming out of the forest on a winding road we saw the blinking lights of a police car and thought it might be a police check. As it turned out somebody had gone through the crash barrier and they were trying to get the car out. When a police officer came to our car, I turned the car window down hoping he would not smell any alcohol. He just told us to drive on.
The next morning I phoned the plumber early and he came around in the afternoon. Thankfully, there was nothing really wrong with the boiler – the electronics were completely mixed up and it did not take him more than 10 minutes to set the system right.
On the Saturday night, we all went to a restaurant in Fischingen, Germany for suckling pig. We had not been there for a few years and really enjoyed the food and of course again the drinks and company. For a good and inexpensive meal out, Germany is the place to go. The Alsace has become pretty expensive, probably because of the close proximity to Switzerland, and Switzerland is just too expensive.
Sunday was a quiet day. Alan did all the work in the garden he wanted to do, i.e. preparing for winter.
Normally I leave my car at my son Mark’s garage in Zunzgen when we leave for a longer period because we can get from Basel airport to Zunzgen and vice versa by public transport. This is not possible in the Alsace. But this time when I went through the mail that had come during our absence I found a letter from the garage telling me that my car had to be MOT’d in October. As we were leaving, again on the Monday Jenny and Eric offered to take us to the airport and the car to the garage, which is in Oltingue, not too far from Hagenthal. When I come back to France in mid December, they will pick me up at the airport and take me to the garage. It is great to have friends who help you when you need it.
The trip back to Denholm was uneventful, except that we could not get through the security check up at Basel airport without giving up a jar of pâté, which somebody in Oberlarg gave us. I told them it was meat and even opened the jar but this was not accepted. Any cream or anything spreadable and more than 100ml cannot be taken in the hand luggage. Alan was furious as he was looking forward to eating this!
We were back home at about 3:30 pm and the dogs were pleased to see us again although Aischa did not recognise us at first when we looked through the car window!
This morning we woke up to a brilliant magical world. Everything was covered by a dusting of snow and the sun was shining. The first snow of the season! When we took the dogs out for their walk across the field I could not see the sheep but on closer inspection they were still all there laying quietly on the ground, watching us. The dirty white of their coats was hardly showing off against the snow. It was only their black faces that gave them away.
Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so that I had to make pictures from our guestroom window.
At last we have hung up the draught curtains for the backdoor. It took Alan a long time to get the bends just right but they look great. They look good when they are open during the day and it is wonderful to be able to close them in the evening. What's more, when I have to get up in the middle of the night the closed curtains make me feel more secure because the light from the staircase coming in through the bottom and sides of the door can no longer be seen! This always made me think that the door was not properly closed.
Last Saturday we went to an auction (http://www.johnswan.co.uk/swan_turner.php) in Jedburgh (http://www.borderpics.co.uk/jedburgh.html) and bought a nice dresser. Just the thing we had been looking for to put between the two windows in our living room.
Picking up the dresser, however, proved to be quite a performance. Apparently Alan had measured the height of the door of our Landrover Defender and worked out that we could transport this piece of furniture ourselves and so saving about £ 30 in transport costs. However, we would have to pick up the bottom part first and come back for the top. Getting the base of the dresser in the car was no problem. We drove home and back to Jedburgh again to pick up the top part. I already had my doubts but I have learned to keep my mouth shut – at least sometimes – and did not question Alan’s measurements of the car’s back door. It turned out that the door was at least 10 cm lower than Alan had measured so there was no way that we could get the top into the car. The top of the dresser was put back into the auction house to be picked up the next by one of our neighbours who has a small van.
The Landrover Defender is our new car and Alan is still not completely familiar with it. Especially with the key! One of the problems is that the key ring keeps falling apart. We have been planning to buy a new one or some glue to stick it together again which would only be a small thing to do but we have not got around to it yet. The key is quite a simple one – nothing electronic, but there is a separate gadget that controls the electronic part of the system including the security/alarm system. As the key ring has fallen apart Alan keeps the 3 components (key, electronic gadget and key for the fuel tank) separately in his trouser pocket. The first time he experienced any problems was at the garage in Denholm. He bought some fuel and when he wanted to start the car again nothing happened! After fiddling about with the key, opening the hood etc., the garage owner came to see what sort of problems he had. He had a look inside the car, saw the ignition key and asked Alan where the security part of the key was. He pressed the unlock button and hey presto it worked!
At the auction house it was not quite as easy as that. After getting into the car and turning the ignition key it hooted twice, lights flashed but nothing else happened. This happened 4 times. Then Alan had the bright idea of taking the ignition key out and the alarm went off, hooting, lights flashing, all together. At that moment we saw a fire engine coming up the road with flashing blue lights. Fortunately it passed us and I sat in the car not daring to look at the people watching us! The auction house owner came out and asked Alan if he had any problems! In the end we both got out of the car, Alan took the ignition key out, locked the car and the alarm stopped. Afterwards it was plain sailing but he has now learned not to leave the key in the ignition and keep the security part in his trouser pocket!
This was not the only problem we had this week. On Wednesday I booked our flight to France for the end of October. When the flight was booked I wanted to enter our details for this flight. This seems to be necessary for any flights in and out the UK but nor for e.g. Holland. Anyway, I needed our passports to do this. I looked in the drawer where I would normally keep them but they were not there. I went down to the car thinking they should be in the compartment between the seats. No passports! No documents for the dogs either! I knew I had them when we embarked in Newcastle because I remember showing them to the custom and immigration people. Did we stop anywhere on the way to Denholm? Only just outside the harbour for the dogs to do their business and they could not have fallen out of the car there. Back up to the flat. I searched everywhere. In the end I had to tell Alan that I could not find our passports or the dogs’ documents. Alan searched the car as well and together we searched the flat again even looking into the most obscure places like the kitchen drawers, bed drawers, any drawer we could think of as well as any cupboard. No passports! That’s when I started panicking. I still had my Swiss identity card so I could travel. Alan might be able to get a replacement within the next 3 weeks but the dogs’ documents were a different thing altogether and we would need them to take them to Ireland (at least I think we may need them this time because the dogs must be chipped now as well). Suddenly I knew where they had to be. Last year, whilst in Ireland, I made a small felt bag to keep my travel papers in when I fly Easyjet or Ryanair with only hand luggage. I could suddenly see, in my mind’s eye, all the papers in this bag. However, while searching the flat I had not seen the bag. Where the hell had I put it? After another 20 minutes of searching I found the bag which hung on the tailor’s dummy next to the chair in the workroom, in full view. I had decorated this dummy with some nice necklaces and scarves as well as the bag!
The guestroom is nearly finished. I have just made these cushions for the bed and the only things we still have to do are hanging up a few pictures.
If somebody had told me 10 years ago that I would enjoy being retired I would have doubted it. I loved my job; I loved the structure it gave my days. Getting up at 6:00 AM was no problem. Leaving home at about 7:00 AM got me to town in 45 mins and starting work at 8:00 AM. Of course I also loved the travels and meeting other people. I could not imagine enjoying living without this.
I must admit, however, that the last 2 years of my working life were not the best. Things had changed a great deal with the change of management. This change meant that much younger people came into the company (maybe too many at the same time) and they thought they knew everything better than those who had been there for a long time (sign of getting old?). True, some changes were necessary but when I think back some changes were not for the better. I used to think that we were all working for a common goal – i.e. we were all working to make a profit for the company as a whole, of which we would obviously also benefit. That seemed to change to ‘every department for itself’ after the changes.
I have now been retired for over 5 years (how time flies!) and never looked back. I took to it like a duck to water. I never missed the structure! Who needs structure? I can now do what I want to do, when I want to do it. It does not mean that I get up late. It would be a shame to sleep the time away when there are so many things I want to do.
Since my retirement our life has changed completely. The long haul travelling days are over and I do not miss them. Life seems to be more tranquil even though we never have a boring moment. Funnily enough, I even find that I have less time to read (which I love doing) than when I was still working.
We get up at about 7:30 without the help of an alarm clock, walk the dogs, have breakfast and watch the news on TV for a while. Than we both do what we want to do. Of course for Alan that depends where we are and what time of the year it is.
We shall be staying in Scotland for another few weeks before leaving for Ireland. This means for Alan that there are only small jobs to do (at the moment he is fixing the curtain rails for the back door!). This is not a bad thing because he worked extremely hard in our garden in France this summer. For him the time in Scotland is a very quiet time. This will of course change again as soon as we are in Ireland! There the hard work in the house will start again.
We also enjoy going to auctions. We have to start being selective now because the place is actually filling up and I have to remind Alan every now and again that we do not need any further chairs or tables or corner cabinets (we have no further free corners) nor any further grandfather clocks (we have one here and two in France).
Time seems to fly and I will do another write up next week.
The plastic dust cover for the sewing machine was disintegrating. I made a new one from the same fabric as the curtains in the workroom and it looks much better.
Every morning about 8:00 hrs we walk the dogs along part of the public footpath from Bedrule to Deholm. This morning after a frosty night it was brillian!
Finished the dog carrier bag yesterday. Aischa loves it!